SUV startup Ineos has been in the news for about five seconds and it has already managed to piss of 1,000 potential workers who would be building its not-a-Land-Rover-Defender. It’s publicly considering ditching its plans to make its vehicles in Wales and Portugal and make them in France instead. I am beginning to think that this kind of factory-switching is an integral part to the startup car business.
A new article today in the Financial Times lays out the drama with Ineos, which is a petrochemical company run by a billionaire, which I guess explains why it is trying to build bougie adventure trucks. From the FT:
Ineos has put work on its Welsh and Portuguese car plants on hold while it talks to Mercedes-Benz about buying an existing facility in France to make its first vehicle, in a move that jeopardises the creation of up to 1,000 jobs.
On Friday, Mercedes-Benz announced it planned to sell its Hambach site, which makes the ultra-compact Smart brand cars and employs 1,600 staff.
“It’s a serious business consideration,” Mark Tennant, Ineos Automotive commercial director, told the Financial Times. He said the talks would take “weeks rather than anything longer”.
Ineos’ public plans up until now had gotten vocal support particularly in Wales, as they’d have been able to keep local workers employed at a Ford plant in the process of closing down. It would have been “a lifeline for many of the staff at the facility,” as the FT put it. There’s even still a page up on the Ineos site championing its development in Wales, promising hundreds of jobs and slipping in a mention that the Grenadier is named after the pub in which the truck was thought up.
Ineos’ new dithering succeeds in ripping hope from their hands, which is genuinely impressive for a company that has not yet entered production. The Ineos Grenadier, as it’s called, doesn’t even exist yet and it’s already disappointing people.
I will say that playing around with where you build your factory is an integral part of the startup car business, as it has been since DeLorean in Northern Ireland, Faraday Future in Nevada, and Tesla absolutely everywhere on Earth.